Washington (CNN) – It is a Washington ritual at the State of the Union address. The president honors special guests by inviting them to sit alongside the first lady in her reserved box in the House chamber.
This year the special guests will include at least one of the heroes from the tragic Tucson shooting. White House spokesman Nick Shapiro tells CNN Daniel Hernandez, the intern who assisted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the Safeway parking lot, will join First Lady Michelle Obama for the speech.
According to a senior White House official, Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Giffords, was also invited but is unlikely to attend because of the Congresswoman's ongoing treatment and rehabilitation at a Houston, Texas hospital. The rest of the guest list has not yet been announced.
Traditionally, the special guest list can be about two dozen people, ranging from guests who exemplify extreme valor and courage to those who represent the president's political agenda.
Last year, special guests included Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, the two officers credited with helping to take down Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan following the alleged shooting rampage at the Fort Hood Military base. Mayor Mick Cornett, the Republican Mayor of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Cindy Parker-Martinez, whose entire family was denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions, were also among last year's the special guests.